The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon race organisers in South Africa are adding a virtual version of the iconic city marathon to the existing bouquet of events.
The Sanlam Cape Town Virtual Marathon will aim to offer an interactive and immersive race experience for athletes across the globe by superimposing the race route on top of streets, open spaces and gardens, complete with live tracking, distance markers, and push messages with information about key landmarks as they are passed.
‘The creation of this virtual race will allow athletes to compete in the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon on 18 October from anywhere in the world, starting at 06:30 local time, wherever they are.’
The race will be available through the Sanlam Cape Town Virtual Marathon app, an integrated digital platform that will launch in the coming weeks.
“We are excited to introduce this digital offering,” said Sanlam Cape Town Marathon Chairman, Francois Pienaar.
“The app will track participants as if they are running the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon route – whether they find themselves in New York, Naples or Knysna – making this a virtual race like no other.
“I am certain that having a race on the horizon will give athletes a tangible goal to work towards, and the extra motivation needed to maintain their training within the parameters of the lockdown levels they may find themselves in.”
As it is still too early to predict whether the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon will be staged in its original format on 18 October, the race organisers remain in close contact with Athletics South Africa and all relevant roleplayers as the months progress.
“While this is a significant challenge, it’s also the perfect time to be innovative, which is why we have reached out to and gained the support from our sponsors, partners and stakeholders to bring the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon to our global marathon family, no matter where they are,” added Pienaar.
Western Province Athletics President, Jakes Jacobs, has called the introduction of the Sanlam Cape Town Virtual Marathon an example of how race organisers can find creative solutions to the challenges they may face. He said, “In this uncertain time, we believe the way forward is to be responsible and prioritise the safety of all participants and stakeholders. This is a great example of how races can step up to the next level.”
Sydney Mbhele, Chief Executive of Brand at Sanlam, the event’s headline sponsor, said “Offering people the opportunity to continue to achieve their personal goals – even as normal life has been so greatly altered – is a big focus for us at Sanlam.
“Whether it is running a personal best in this marathon or achieving any other 2020 financial goal, it is vital that all of us – as South Africans, Africans and the world – work together to find new ways of making our dreams come true.”
He said Sanlam was now in its sixth year of the sponsorship. “The race has grown exponentially, not only in terms of race status, participant numbers and the calibre of elite athletes, but also in terms of the impact it has on the lives of so many Capetonians, South Africans and Africans. It has generated in the past year more than R230m in economic investment and raised R3m for 56 charities in this time.”
Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), Sanlam’s chosen beneficiary of funds from the race, will continue to benefit from the race in 2020, irrespective of the form it takes.
Sydney Mbhele at Sanlam said, “Our philosophy for the race in 2020 is ‘Run for Something’. Whether a runner is doing it to better their personal best, improve their sense of wellbeing during lockdown or to raise money for those in need, in a year of such turmoil we want to give participants a reason to run with meaning.”
The City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, JP Smith, added “Cape Town is a year-round favourite tourism and sporting destination, and we are keenly aware of the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has on these industries in 2020. I therefore commend the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon organisers for thinking outside the box.
“The world may not be able to come to the Mother City this year, but this virtual race has a unique opportunity to take Cape Town to the world.”
While the 5km and 10km Peace Runs will also be presented in virtual race format on 17 and 18 October respectively, there will not be a virtual race option for the event’s 2020 Trail Runs.
Athletes who have already entered the 2020 race will be able to transfer to the virtual race from June. Entrants will receive an official race number, and all finishers will receive a digital medal and certificate.
“Extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary measures,” noted Sanlam Cape Town Marathon Race Director, Renée Jordaan. “The Sanlam Cape Town Virtual Marathon will provide athletes the opportunity to train, remain competitive, and stay connected to the greater running community.
“What better way to illustrate our solidarity than by participating in a virtual race that brings Cape Town to your doorstep. This will truly be a race like no other.”
The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon was recently awarded the prestigious World Athletics Gold Label Status for the fourth consecutive year – the only marathon on the African continent and one of only a select group of marathons in the world to have this status.
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic that continues to sweep across the globe, and the postponement of the Olympic Games, all Gold Label Status races will retain their status for 2020 and 2021.